Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 West Quarter-Final:
Game 1 @ San Jose
April 17, 2014
7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)
The anticipation has built and now it is time to drop the puck on the West Quarter-Final between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks. This marks the third time these two clubs will meet in the playoffs since 2011.
The Kings enter this battle having won the season series from their rivals from Northern California, 3-1-1. However, last spring, home-ice advantage played a significant role as the home team won all seven games. Since Los Angeles held the advantage last year, they won the series. This time, however, it's the Sharks holding home-ice advantage as they hope to eliminate the Kings.
Los Angeles enters the playoffs as the lowest-scoring team with 206 goals during the regular season. That may seem a bit of a dubious distinction to some but let's not forget how far the Kings went when they last entered a playoff year as the lowest-scoring team. That was 2012. Nevertheless, Los Angeles's top line has been in full force since acquiring Marian Gaborik at the Trade Deadline on March 5. The line of Gaborik, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams combined for 30 points in their team's final 11 regular-season games. Los Angeles fans hope for a continuation of that trend against the Sharks.
Entering this series, defenseman Slava Voynov is on a hot streak, having scored five points in his last four games. The aforementioned Kopitar is also in a groove with seven goals and four assists in his last nine. As for San Jose, Patrick Marleau has four points in his last five, Joe Pavelski ended the regular season on a nine-game point streak while Logan Couture has six points in his last five outings.
Some promising news for Los Angeles entering Game 1 is the status of Drew Doughty who will play after missing his team's final four regular-season contests with an upper-body injury. San Jose's Raffi Torres is also probable for the series opener which should make this series all the more exciting.
We've been waiting a long time for this and now we'll see just which way the wind blows to open this series.
Enjoy the game!